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HOUSTON – A stick of dynamite was found in a college student’s checked luggage on a Continental Airlines flight from Argentina, one of seven security incidents Friday that caused U.S. flights to be diverted, evacuated, searched or delayed.
Howard McFarland Fish, 21, was charged with carrying an explosive aboard an aircraft and was in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Federal authorities have determined that his actions were not acts of terrorism, ICE spokeswoman Luisa Deason said in a statement.
Houston Fire Department Assistant Chief Omero Longoria said Fish told authorities he works in mining and often handles explosives. Longoria said federal officials were investigating whether the explanation was true.
In other incidents:
– An American Airlines flight from England to Chicago was forced to land in Bangor, Maine, after federal officials “learned of a reported threat,” FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said. Some people on board said a fellow passenger was handcuffed and placed in a police car as they were leaving the jetliner.
Marcinkiewicz said no one was arrested but declined to say if anyone from the flight out of Manchester was in custody.
– A US Airways jet was diverted to Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport after a federal air marshal subdued a disruptive passenger who had pushed a flight attendant, the FBI said.
The passenger was undergoing a mental evaluation, and authorities had yet to determine what criminal charges he might face. The twin-engine jet returned to flight three hours later on its trip from Phoenix to Charlotte, N.C.
– A Continental Airlines flight from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Bakersfield, Calif., was held in El Paso, one of its scheduled stops, after the crew discovered a missing panel in the lavatory, authorities said. Passengers were being screened and interviewed, Amy von Walter of the Transportation Security Administration said.
– A utility knife was found on a vacant passenger seat of a US Airways flight that had traveled from Philadelphia to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, state police said.
No arrests were made and there were no threats involved, said Master Sgt. J. Paul Vance, state police spokesman. He said it was unknown Friday whether a worker inadvertently left the knife on the plane or a passenger brought it on.
– An Aer Lingus flight from New York to Dublin was evacuated Friday morning during a scheduled stopover in western Ireland following a bomb threat that turned out to be unfounded, officials said.
– A United Airlines flight out of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport was delayed because a small boy said something inappropriate, according to a government official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. “He didn’t want to fly,” the official said.
The Manchester-to-Chicago flight, American Airlines Flight 55, was diverted to Bangor for security reasons, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Murray said.
The plane landed on a remote taxiway and passengers were taken by bus to a holding area, said airport manager Rebecca Hupp. State police provided bomb squad dogs, and local police provided additional assistance.
“The TSA learned of a reported threat to the aircraft while it was en route,” TSA spokeswoman Andrea McCauley said, declining to give further details. FBI agents were interviewing passengers and crew, she added.
Marcinkiewicz, of the FBI, declined to elaborate on the source of the threat, or to say whether officials believed it to be legitimate.
Stay tuned …